Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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I am a mere 5 days away from my summer vacation! Which is a really a work-cation1 because omg, look at all the crap I have to do:

More To Do

Granted, that is my “to do” for school up until October, but just seeing how much is on there – and knowing that a bunch of it is due in early September – is enough to freak me out/motivate me to try to get ahead a bit, as come September we are going to be swamped! I’ve already started on some of it – and my group and I have been working pretty hard on our business plan project2. But I’m realizing that some of this school work is going to have to come with me on my trip.

Wait, what trip? I hear you asking. Well, I’m glad you asked! Because every hard working girl needs some R&R3, I have taken two weeks vacation from work. Because I have to be able to attend my weekly teleconference calls with my business plan group and need to have Internet access to do work on said business plan project, we decided not to stray to far from home, but just to go with some road trips for our vacation: Washington state/Oregon, Vancouver Island, and the Okanagan to be specific.

My first order of business once my vacation starts is to be chased by zombies. Yup, just 5 days from now I’ll be competing in the  zombie obstacle course race down in Washington state. I’m very excited and positively terrified! After enjoying my post-race beer at the Apocalypse party, we’ll head down to Portland. Other than the zombie race, we haven’t made concrete plans of what to do when, but we intend to spend a few days exploring the Oregon coast, eating Voodoo Doughnuts, drinking local microbrew beers, and traipsing through Powell’s Books. After we’ve had our fill of Oregon, we’ll head back north, where we just might make a jaunt over to Mount St. Helens, because volcanos are awesome. Then we intend to take the ferry from Anacortes, Washington to Vancouver Island, just because neither of us have taken that ferry before. We’ll stay on the Island for some as-of-yet indeterminate amount of time, then head on over to the mainland and, at some point, make our way to the Okanagan, to visit wineries, play with Devon’s wee niece4, and look for Ogopogo.

But before I get too excited about my freedom from work5, I still have 5 days of said work, in which I have insane amounts of things to get done. This includes:

  • three teleconferences
  • two meetings
  • one job description to write
  • several evaluation plans that I at least need to make some significant progress on
  • a progress report to finalize
  • a manuscript to submit6
  • a report to release
  • a bunch of qualitative data analysis to get done
  • a professional development workshop to attend7
  • various paperwork to complete8
  • and probably a bunch of other stuff that I’m forgetting

I also need to, at some point, buy a camera, organize my various piles of paper from school so that I can even find the stuff I need to bring with me, and pack anything I might need during a vacation of indeterminate length, and do the 10 km long run that I was supposed to do yesterday, but didn’t. I think I’m going to need a vacation from preparing for my vacation!

  1. Credit to Kalev for coining the word “work-cation”. []
  2. The stuff I have listed on my white board under “B-plan” is just a few of things I wanted to remind myself to do beyond that which is on our group’s Gantt chart. I didn’t have enough whiteboard space to include all the other stuff we have done/are doing. []
  3. Where “R&R” = rest and really-lots-of-school-work. []
  4. Who we haven’t seen since Christmas! []
  5. Job-related work, at least. []
  6. With any luck. Waiting on someone to review it. []
  7. This one is actually for school. We have to do 5 hours of pro-d stuff during the 28 months of our program, and one of them is being held on Thursday evening. []
  8. Like a timesheet, to make sure I get paid. And a mileage claim form, to make sure I get paid for that. And an expense claim form so I can get reimbursed for stuff. I suppose I really shouldn’t complain about the paperwork, since it all ends up as money in my pocket. []



Well, they will be on August 4.

After much talking about it, I have finally got around to officially registering for the Run for Your Lives zombie obstacle course race, being held about halfway between Seattle & Portland on the August long weekend. Special props go out to Dr. Erika, who brought this race to my attention! I’ve joined my friend Julie’s team – the Apocalyptic Avengers. And I’m taking costume suggestions1.

Zombie Triple Attack

I’m terrified already!

Image from the Darlington, MD Zombie Race in 2011, posted by Rob Swatski on Flickr.

  1. The only caveats are that (a) it can’t include any weapons, real or toy, and (b) it can’t weigh me down, because I’m going to be running from zombies, FFS! []


Voodoo Doughnut

Voodoo DoughnutOne of the things we knew we just *had* to do on our trip to Oregon was go to Voodoo Doughnut. I can even remember where my sister first heard about it, but heard about it she had – and pretty much everyone I told that I was going to Portland said, “You HAVE to go to Voodoo Doughnut!” and so on our trip we went not once, but *twice* to this land of crazy deep-fried goodness. My friend Kim’s sister has been known to drive from her home on Vancouver Island all the way to Portland *just* to have one of these donuts!

Please wait here for the next available doughnutBoth times we went, there were pretty big line ups. But the service is pretty speedy, so we didn’t really have to wait all that long before we got to the front of the line to pick our donuts!

Now, truth be told, the donuts themselves aren’t all that spectacular. They are pretty much like anything other bakery donut – better than, say, a factory-produced Tim Horton’s, but not better than if you went to a bakery where they bake their own. But what makes these guys worth writing a blog posting about is that the fillings and icings are outstandingly delicious AND the concepts of how they decorate them are crazy awesome1. Some examples:

A McMinnville Cream. Bavarian cream-filled, this donut has maple topping and a moustache. And who doesn’t want a donut with a moustache?
Me and my maple deliciousness at Voodoo Doughnut

Madeline ordered the prettiest donut they had – The Grape Ape, which is decorated with purple sparkles and grape Kool-Aid – but alas, this was the only one that we didn’t like the taste of! Yuck!
Grape Kool-Aid donut at Voodoo Doughnut (it tasted pretty gross!)

Their signature donut is the Voodoo Man – pretzel stake through the heart and raspberry jelly filling, these guys come decorated all sorts of ways, but I think this skeleton one was the best.
Voodoo Doughnut - Voodoo Man

Portland Cream – it’s like a Vancouver Cream, but with eyes!
Voodoo Doughnut - Portland Cream

And then there is the donut that everyone talks about: the maple bacon donut:

Voodoo Doughnut - Maple Bacon

The verdict on this one, however, is that the maple topping is so strong, you don’t really taste the bacon at all!

Overall, I’d say it was definitely worth the trip to Voodoo Doughnuts and if I ever find myself in Portland again, I’ll probably go back. Next time I think I’ll try the Cock’n’balls donut though!

Keep Portland Weird Building across the road from Voodoo Doughnut.

  1. or crawesome, as it is also known []


The Last Two Days In Oregon

Yesterday we decided to spent on the coast, because the coast is so freaking beautiful. First, we drove out to the Tillamook Cheese Factory, where we got to see how cheese is made, then Jeff & Madeline enjoyed some delicious Tillamook ice cream and I bought my bodyweight in cheese. We were amazed by how many people there were there – we didn’t even bother to stand in the line up for the cheese tasting, because it was ridiculously long and since every restaurant in Oregon seems to use Tillamook cheese, we’d tried enough of it to know that it’s freaking delicious! Next we went for lunch at a lovely restaurant on the water – I can’t remember the name of it, but the food was good and the view was awesome. Then it was off to the beach so Madeline could dip her toe in the ocean. By which I mean she could run and jump in the freezing cold waves for about an hour. It was so freaking cold that I had to wrap myself in towels to keep warm, but she was happy as a clam running through the water! On our way back from the coast, we decided to stop in downtown Portland so that we could (a) get espresso at Powell’s Bookstore,since it was the best espresso we’d had on our entire trip, and (b) have more Voodoo Doughnuts. As we started to head out of town, the vents of our rental car started to spew smoke and the car started chugging, so we had to pull off the road and call the rental car company. So boo to the car itself – a Nissan Versa – but kudos to the rental car company – Hertz – who sent a cab to pick us up and take us to our hotel, and sent a tow truck to pick up the car, and then brought us a new car to our hotel right away. Not exactly how we wanted to spend our evening, but at least they managed to get us home safely in pretty short order.

Today’s adventures started with a trip to see Multnomah Falls where we not only got to see the cool waterfall1, but they also happened to be having a kids’ festival. They had stations set up where kids could learn about things like the salmon lifecycle, how long different things take to biodegrade, and what different animal tracks look like. Kids got a stamp for every station they went to and, once they collected all their stamps, they got a free ice cream cone! Madeline, of course, loved all the learning about nature and the ice cream, but my favourite part was watching the parents. There was one woman who walked up to the salmon lifecycle exhibit and proceeded to tell her kids, “This is the salmon eggs, this is when it is a tadpole, this is when its a minnow and this is when it’s a full grown salmon.” WTF? At another station, the kids had to reach into a box, feel what was inside and try to guess what the item inside was. When the box was opened, they could see what it was and there was also a sign inside that described a bit about it. One of the items was really hard to guess and when the person running the exhibit opened the box, which contained a very large vertebra but had a sign that said, “Box turtle shell,” this same mother from the previous booth exclaimed, “A box turtle shell!” Now, a vertebra looks *nothing* like a turtle shell. The person running the exhibit proceeded to show the kids the vertebra, explaining what a vertebra is, how the spinal cord runs through the centre of it, etc. About a minute after the exhibitor finished her spiel about the vertebra, the mother exclaimed, “That’s not a box turtle shell?” At least she was trying harder than the next mother who came along and proceeded to open all the boxes, revealing what was inside them, completing ignoring the protest of the women running the exhibit who kept saying, “Don’t open them! The kids are supposed to feel inside the boxes and guess what’s in them! No!” Le sigh.

After the falls, we headed in to the town of Hood River, where we had lunch at a brew pub and where I also took this epic planking photo:


What’s so awesome, of course, is that even though I’m planking on the rock, there’s a funny perspective that makes it look like I’m falling into the water right in front of a sign that says not to go in the water! We then celebrated this with a delicious espresso from Doppio, which turned out to have espresso that rivalled the deliciousness of the espresso at Powell’s Bookstore.

Next, since we were already in the Columbia Gorge, we figured why not check out a couple of wineries? We tried to go to the Mount Hood Winery, but it was closed for a wedding, so instead did wine tastings at Viento and Wy’east. The wines at Viento were OK, but I didn’t love them and they were somewhat overpriced, given that I know wine prices in the  US are generally much cheaper than in BC. I liked the wines at Wy’east – which is the Native American name for Mount Hood, in case you were wondering2 – much better and even bought a bottle of their Syrah, which has a berry-ish taste to start and then a peppery taste to finish! Nancy & Jeff bought a bottle of their Cloud Cap Select, a port-like dessert wine which smelled terrible, tasted great and then tasted even more amazing when you drank it along with some chocolate! Because just think of the antioxidants you’ll get from drinking red wine and eating dark chocolate!

By this point, I was pretty drunk, because we’d done two wine tasting with six wines each – that’s *twelve* wines! Plus, all the wineries were now closed. So we headed back to the hotel, where Jeff & Madeline went swimming while Nancy & I did a quick workout. Then it was off to our favourite Mexican restaurant – a little place near our hotel called El Sombrero. So. Freaking. Delicious. After that, a little dip in the hot tub to end our day!

  1. I don’t have any photos to share at the moment, because my camera batteries died, my iPhone camera sucks and so all the photos are on Jeff’s good camera but he’s asleep and I forgot to get the photos off his camera before he went to sleep []
  2. We were wondering, so we asked! []


Things We’ve Done So Far On Our Trip To Oregon

In no particular order:
  • eaten some delicious Voodoo Doughnuts
  • gone to Powell’s  Books, the bookstore that takes up an entire city block
  • drank outstanding espresso at the coffeeshop in Powell’s and had an extremely long conversation with a random couple looking to move to Portland from Florida1
  • gotten lost
  • cursed not being able to access the intertubes on our phones2
  • eaten ridiculously delicious Mexican food at this little out-of-way Mexican restaurant near our out-of-the-way hotel. Twice.3.
  • eaten at an excellent pub in downtown Portland
  • sample some fine Oregon beers
  • visited the Oregon Coast Aquarium, where we saw sharks, sea otters, sea lions, seals, auks and a host of other creatures
  • eaten at an excellent restaurant on the water in Newport
  • driven along the coast highway
  • watched the sun set over the Pacific
  • done some outlet shopping4
  1. They had a new baby named Juniper and since Nancy & Jeff have a new baby, it easily led to a lengthy conversation []
  2. well, technically we *could* access them, but we are all way too cheap to pay the exorbitant US data roaming charges []
  3. I may have also consumed the world’s largest margarita at this restaurant []
  4. Though I was the most interested in going outlet shopping, I bought the least. There were only a few things I liked and those things were either (a) not available in my size, or (b) too expensive. I ended up buying one tank top at Ann Taylor for $20.99! []



Having spent a day in downtown Portland, I can now confirm that the show Portlandia is, in fact, a documentary. This is pretty much what it’s like here:


Observations About Oregon

  • Salespeople always count out your change for you.
  • Signs for garage sales/yard sales just say, “SALE –>”
  • There are a lot of little huts around that sell espresso.
  • The symbol for the Oregon Lottery is *hilarious*!

Oregon Lottery Sign


The Delinquent Traveler

Whenever I go on a trip, I do as little planning as possible. Generally, I travel with people who either like to plan or are resigned to it. Case in point: the trip I’m currently on. All the research about the destination, hotel, attractions, etc. were handled by my sister and her boyfriend. I basically just had to show up. Well, show up and buy beer and diapers along the way, as Nancy, Jeff and the kids are flying in from  Toronto1 and it wasn’t worth lugging that kind of stuff on the airplane.

Of course, for this trip I actually had to get myself to Portland.  I had decided to drive because flights were more expensive than they were worth. Knowing that I am too cheap to use my cell phone in the States, I had printed out at Google Map with the directions to get to the hotel – basically down the I-5 to the I-205. I also have a giant map book that has all the states and provinces in it, so I brought that along as well. I decided to leave very early in the morning to try to beat them long weekend border traffic. This was a good plan, because I left my house at about 6:15 a.m. and I only ended up waiting about 15 minutes at the border2. Though I had plotted the direct route to Portland on Google Maps, I knew I would have *tonnes* of time to kill as my family wasn’t going to be arriving until about 8 p.m.3. I toyed with the idea of driving at least part of the way down the coast instead of the I-54, but not far as doing any actual planning. You know, like mapping out an actual route. Anyway, as I was driving along the I-5, I saw a sign that said, “Ocean Beaches” and thought, “What the hell?” and went in that direction to take the more scenic route. I had my giant map book, which has the major highways on it and figured out basically where I’d end up going if I followed this spur-of-the-moment plan. Basically, I took Hwy 8/Hwy 12/Hwy 105 through Aberdeen, Grayland, the hilariously named Tokeland, down to Raymond, around South Bend and down Hwy 101 through Lewis & Clark National Park and over the most awesomest bridge ever into Astoria.

Just before I went over the awesome bridge, I stopped in at the Dismal Nitch Rest Area:

Dismal Nitch Rest Area



That “No Fish Cleaning” sign made me really wish I had a fish in need of cleaning!

But I have to say, Dismal Nitch is so not dismal!

Dismal Nitch Rest Area

Dismal Nitch Rest Area

Hell, even the restroom had flowers:







Dismal Nitch Rest Area - the restroom had flowers!






This is the awesome bridge that links Washington State to Astoria, Oregon. I’m pretty sure it’s the longest bridge I’ve ever driven on, and is certainly the awesomest (the photo does not do it justice!):Dismal Nitch Rest Area

Strangely, I was listening to my music on shuffle at the time and just as I was about to go over the bridge, the song “Stan” by Eminem came on. For anyone not familiar with the song, it ends with an Enimem fan committing murder-suicide by driving off a bridge with his pregnant girlfriend being held captive in the trunk of his car. Definitely an eerie song to listen to on a bridge5! Also, that’s how long the bridge is – by the time it got to that part of the song, I was still on the bridge!

In Astoria, I stopped for a (late) lunch and took a couple of photos – the place was as cute as button, and the photos don’t do it justice at all:

Astoria, OR



Upon leaving Astoria, I was a wee bit nervous because I was now going to be approaching Portland, and thus my hotel, from a totally different direction than the original Google Map that I’d printed and, as you know, I ‘m directionally challenged. I managed to get most of the way there, but then there was a giant clusterfuck of Hwy 30, Hwy 30 Bypass, Hwy 84, Hwy 205, Hwy 405 and the I-5 all having a giant orgy and I got totally and completely lost. To the point that I actually had to turn on my phone’s data to ask Google Maps to save me. It only took me like 5 seconds to do that, but I’m sure that will cost me eleventy billion dollars in data roaming fees. But it did the job because I’m now sitting in my hotel room, writing this blog posting, and waiting for my family to arrive!

I am sure I’ll chime back in with more stories of our Portland adventures (Voodoo Doughnut, I’m looking in your direction!) soon!



  1. Dragon Dictate just wrote “Tron” instead of Toronto []
  2. The sign said the wait was going to be 40 minutes, so that was a pleasant surprise. []
  3. and the direct route only takes about 5 hours. []
  4. Sarah had suggested that, since I had so much time to kill, I take a detour to check out Mount St. Helens. I thought about it, but I realized that a trip to Mount St. Helens would be way more fun with someone else as opposed to by myself, so I decided to save it for another time []
  5. Clearly, Bellatrix has a twisted sense of humour! []


Countdown to Vacation!

I am a mere five workdays away from my first true vacation in a year and a half! I say “true” vacation because, though I have had time off from work, my last two trips have been to Ontario1 and trips to Ontario are not restful for me. I mean, I have a great time seeing family and old friends, but there is so much pressure to run around and see everyone that I really don’t get to relax at all. So my last relaxing vacation was my trip to the Dominican in January 2010! That is just waaaay too long ago.

So, I have to say that I’m *very* much looking forward to my upcoming eight day sojourn to Portland, Oregon. As I mentioned before, my sister and her posse are flying to Portland and I shall be driving Zaphod Beeblebrox the Car to meet them. Our plans for Portland consist of doing whatever the hell we feel like, whenever the hell we feel like it. Portland is supposed to be a super awesome city, so I’m sure we won’t have much trouble finding fun things to do each day.

Driving across the border on a long weekend, however2, is going to suck donkey balls, but my plan is that I’ll leave super early on Saturday morning, which hopefully means the border lineup will only be half crazy instead of completely batshit, and I can always entertain myself in a long border lineup by doing some studying. Then I can take my time driving down the coast (Sarah‘s suggestion is that I check out Mount St. Helens on the way) and then putter around in Portland until Nancy et al arrives that evening.

But before then – five more workdays3. So I should really get to bed so that I can get up for work!

  1. December 2010 and June 2011 []
  2. Especially a long weekend where the Canadian dollar is so strong []
  3. And about 10 days worth of work that need to be done in those five workdays! []